14 October 2020

John Redwood FCOptom: 1934-2020

We are saddened to report the death of John Redwood FCOptom.

John Redwood, who has died aged 85, served the profession as both an optometrist and a civil servant. He left school, not unusually for his generation, at the age of 16 and went to work for an optician in The City, taking evening classes at the former West Ham College of Technology in the 1950s and transferring on its closure (in 1954) to the Northampton Polytechnic. His early interest was in engineering, but he qualified as a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers via three sets of examinations taken between 1954 and 1959. He also undertook his National Service in Cambridgeshire (working as an optician) before returning to practice.

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After qualification, he practised first in Pitsea, Essex in the early 1960s and after a short spell on the Tottenham Court Road in Central London, he proceeded to work at practices in Southsea in Hampshire, and Canterbury and Ashford in Kent. More latterly, he worked for Rawling & Sons in Faversham and, in the 21st century, worked at Bailey’s Opticians in Dover where he delighted in the fact that he was working for a dispensing optician who was his former pre-reg student. A Founding Fellow of the College, he remained a great supporter of the College’s work. In 2002, he took up an additional role as one of the first cohort of College Regional Liaison Officers (RLOs) representing Kent. He reached the landmark of 50 years’ service in 2011.

In the early 1980s, he took up one of the two optometric posts at the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS), based in Russell Square, where his responsibilities, among other things, covered advising ministers on instrumentation and ophthalmic dispensing. He was also responsible, at one stage, for ears, teeth and feet! When the DHSS decided to fund and encourage continuing education and training, it appointed John to the Joint Academic Board that was responsible for approving Optometric funding for CET courses. Subsequently, he was promoted to become its Chairman and when these funds were increased significantly, he was instrumental in proposing that the College administer them, resulting in the formation of a new directorate (DOCET). In the mid-1990s, he served the Medical Devices Directorate, and he continued to work at the Department of Health from its premises at Hannibal House, Elephant & Castle. He also represented the DoH on various British Standards ophthalmic committees, in particular Ophthalmic Lenses and Frames. When the Department withdrew from direct representation on BSI committees, the College nominated John as a College BSI representative.

Following his retirement from the DoH, John Redwood continued to do sterling work in the field of British and International Standards and represented the UK at numerous International meetings. He was also chair of the BSI committee covering devices for Eye and Face Protection (ISO/TC94/SC6) after that committee’s re-activation in 2001. Recently, John was Chairman of PH/2- eye protection and two of its three subcommittees, PH/2/1 sunglasses and sports eye protection and PH/2/2 occupational eye protection. As recently as July of this year, the British Standards Institution awarded him a ‘Distinguished Service Certificate’.

He was also a Liveryman of the WCSM from 1993, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and a writer of short stories. A keen supporter of the Scout Movement, John participated in outdoor and overnight events with the Venture Scouts even into his early 80s. He had been undergoing cancer treatment for the past 18 months but remained active until the end. He had a wife, two sons and a daughter. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.